The Anheuser-Busch brewing company has decided to drop plans to mass produce its soft drink "Chelsea" because of poor showings in test markets.
When first introduced in test areas in September 1978, the drink contained .4 percent alcohol and was advertised as the "not so soft drink." The beverage and the ads set off a storm of protest in six test markets across the country. Critics charged that it was an attempt by Anheuser-Bush, the nation's biggest brewer, to indoctrinate a new generation of drinkers.
In Virginia, one of the six test marketing areas, the drink was boycotted by groups of nurses, clergymen and educators who declared it would lead to the corruption of young people.
Because each bottle of Chelsea contained less than a half of 1 percent of alcohol, it could be sold to anyone of any age, including children. Many of the Virginia opponents took to calling the drink "baby beer."
The protests eventually forced the brewerey to remove the alcohol from the lemon-giner-apple flavored beverage, but the new formula never caught on in the test markets, the company said.
The last time Anheuser-Busch tried to sell something less potent than its widely popular beers was during Prohibition when it produced a "near beer" product called "Bevo." Bevo was discontinued when the company found it could not compete with bootleggers selling the real thing.